Tag Archives: flowers

Exuberant Garden Offerings

Almost any garden, if you see it at just the right moment,

can be confused with paradise.

                                                                                                  ~Henry Mitchell

treasured gift

Gardens often are a source of inspiration for those who work the soil and tend the plantings, as well as for those who visit. There is such a deep, innate connection and love of nature for most of us. Do you feel that way?

Diane, a local poet extraordinaire, visits Rose Cottage on a late afternoon for a stroll amongst the early fall garden beds. The gardens at Rose Cottage are simple country gardens . . . and wax and wane dependent upon the weather and wildlife.

Old garden with stone bird bath FAV

Elizabeth joins us for tea and berries in the garden, too. She is an amazing gardener. Will you join us? There is so much to share . . .  The three of us laugh, talk and are frequently in our own thoughts as we are mesmorized by the exquisite lighting in the garden.

Fra Dagmar Hastrop FAV

The sun sinks low behind the trees and hills. The gardens glimmer in jewel tones while song birds sing from the tops of the white pine, red cedar and basswood. The leaves of the quaking aspen rustle in the soft southern breeze. The heady, unmistakable  fragrance of heirloom roses fills the air. Breathless.

Petunia Double Pink FAV

It is one of those times were magic abounds in the garden. . . our hearts sing with the beauty of the moment. . . our spirits are filled with peace and exuberance all at once. It feels like paradise . . .

Bird with a Broken Wing FAV

the heart sings in poetry

 A few days following our dreamy late afternoon in the garden, Diane is eager to meet. She hands me a sealed envelope. “It is my gift to you. After visiting Rose Cottage, I couldn’t sleep until I wrote what was in my heart and on my mind.” This is what she penned . . .

Light Play

In the garden of Debbykay (almost Monet)

In the village of Afton (almost Giverney),

We cannot even see Elizabeth’s hat,

One of the straw varieties reserved

For outings such as these,

Until she backs out, fanny first,

From the forest of tomato vines

Where she picks the still-warm

Exuberant offerings of late August.

 

Rub and sniff, fingers filled with pineapple sage,

Punctuations of pleasure that dart and surprise

Displacing the butterfly-bee rondelets, garden opera,

With botanical poetry from seed catalogues, we are

Divas in the moment when shimmer meets shadow.

This one’s and that one’s version

Of gardens known, imagined, want to be,

Would be if we were a bee (or a butterfly),

Revelers dancing in the sparkle of sunspray.

                                                     ~Diane Pecoraro

Pink Dahlia FAV

Diane’s poetry is an amazing gift. It is truly humbling to realize that our simple little parcel of land that we tend inspires another. Diane’s generosity is encouraging on days when it is easy to be discouraged and weary. Her poetry is a reminder of the brief glimpse, as if through a small crack in a window, of paradise captured on a spectacular early fall eve at Rose Cottage.

What inspires you about gardens you visit or tend? 

 

Stroll over to A Southern Daydreamer to see how others are enjoying the early days of autumn outdoors, and visit Melissa at The Inspired Room and Julia at Hooked on Houses.

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Filed under Gardening

Beautiful Berries and Brambles

 You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces —

just good food from fresh ingredients.

                                                                                                           ~Julia Child

fresh and local

Ahh . . . the early weeks of autumn. The gardens and fields are exuberant. I am in heaven with all the fresh produce — either what we grow at Rose Cottage or what we are able to obtain from local growers and producers.

 The just-picked vegetable or fruit turns any meal into something fantastic! The fragrance, taste and texture of fresh produce truly shines in any recipe.

buy fresh buy local Mark and Sues 0909 v2

In the fall, the fabric of our lives are filled with gathering and preserving. It is incredibly difficult to exercise prudent restraint with the abundant produce — I have an insatiable desire to preserve it all. A few bushels never seems quite enough of one thing or another! The kitchen at Rose Cottage is bustling daily with various stages of preserving the plethera of fruits or vegetables.

lovely brambles

 While vegetables abound, the time is ripe for picking those precious little black nuggets — blackberries! The blackberries are about two weeks tardy in their appearance since it has been a bit cooler. Many of the brambles are still filled with gorgeous soft-pink blackberry flower buds and half-dollar sized five-petaled white flowers. Aren’t the blossoms simply lovely?

flowers bud, berry FAV

The rows of blackberries are all-a-buzz with hundreds and hundreds of bees dancing from flower-to-flower. The bees are growing quite dizzy in all the frenzy and merrymaking as they gather the blackberry flower nectar in the warm mid-morning sun.  Some bees are so overcome by the sweet nectar they nearly fall off the blossom.

flowers, bud, berries and bee FAV

gathering “black gold”

Aside for the boisterous bee chorus, all is quiet and peaceful as we start down the first row of blackberries . . . seeking the dark, beautiful berries. The unmistakeable sweet fragrance of just-mowed alfalfa lingers following each sporadic breeze coming from the southwest. The first row furthest to the north is just developing berries. It is fascinating to observe the berries from bud to blossom to blackberry on one bramble.

blackberries (unripe) and flower FAV2

One ripe blackberry FAV

While many berries are still underripe, we find many gorgeous 1/2 to 1-inch berries on the south side of the rows. The darker berries are ripe. When ripe, they so sweet and luscious! My fingers become stained with the beautiful dark purple-red juice. One berry for the ice cream bucket . . . one to sample . . .Someone has to make sure they are perfectly ripe.

Blackberry clusters FAV

The effects of the warm September sun, the soothing music of the bees and nature’s aromatics are futile to resist. I look up from my intense berry gathering to find my Sweetie comfortably resting with his hands behind his head on the meadow grass between the berry rows. He looks so peaceful! Just a sneak peek into his ice cream bucket reveals there is barely enough to cover the bottom. I laugh, but am so glad he can rest! Back to picking berries, but not without first noticing my Sweetie’s quick wink and impish smile.

priceless treasures

We are both content and enjoy the amazing moments amongst the beautiful berries and brambles on a gorgeous September day. Time seems to stand still whilst picking berries. I think of nothing and everything all at once. What a day to treasure!

Soon, the two buckets of the beautiful black gems will be preserved as jam or frozen as whole berries to be enjoyed over the winter months.

blackerries in a bowl FAV

blackberry jam FAV

And . . . the memories of a gorgeous day linger as brambles are added to a lovely bouquet of roses. Memories . . . just gathering some more roses for winter . . . roses and blackberries FAV1 Love is a fruit in season at all times,

and within reach of every hand.

                                             ~Mother Teresa 

You may also . . .

Enjoy reading about Fall Nesting {Summer in a Jar and Antique Mason Jars {before and after.

Also posted on  Hooked on Houses,  The Inspired Room and Designs by Gollum.

 

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Filed under Cooking, Family, Gardening, preserving

Market Fresh Treasures

It’s difficult to think

anything but pleasant thoughts

when eating a homegrown tomato!

                                              ~Lewis Grizzard

saturday morning ritual

The first glimmering rays of the early morning sun filter through the pines and ancient maples — the sun is just rising over the river valley. The cool morning mist lingers a bit, but is slowly lifting across the meadow below Rose Cottage. I look out a bedroom window. A doe and her offspring — a fawn still with mottled spots — are laying in the dewy meadow grass under the cedar trees. The chickadees, gold finches and cardinals are eating breakfast seeds at the feeders outside the kitchen windows. Boisterous Bob The Rooster proclaims to the world that it is another new day, and “it’s the early bird that catches the worm — so get out of bed you sleepy head!”

saturday morning

In the summertime, it is off to the farmers market in the capitol city — truly a highlight of each Saturday. My Favorite Son, recovering at home following his surgery, joins me on the early morning market adventure to gather the freshest, local produce. How sweet it is! Soon the sights of covered market stalls come into view.

market vendor 1FAV

market vendor 2 FAV

The market growers stalls are filled with a plethera of seasonal produce — brillant green romano beans, purple and yellow onions, perfect green peppers, aubergine and soft pink eggplant, lush red raspberries, golden corn with the silk still fresh and tender, heirloom Italian zucchini, yellow and green pattypan squash, crisp English cuccumbers . . . the fragrance of fresh produce is envigorating and fills the early morning air. Superb aromatherapy.

heirloom tomato and blueberries FAV

tomatoes and cauliflower

 apples and pear 2 FAV

sweet mama 2

corn

eggplant 2

Friendly “good mornings’” are exchanged as the market bustles with liveliness. The rays of the early morning sun brings some of the vegetable offerings to center stage — as if under spotlights. Ah, the tomatoes!

Cauliflower and tomotoes with sunlight FAV

Peppers and Beans FAV

The aroma of freshly-brewed peace coffee calls to the Favorite Son. The steamy dark roast brew fills his mug . . . a sip . . . a smile . . . and his eyes are opened! Now, we can continue on to visit some of our favorite market growers.

coffee FAV

a few favorites

Mark Christopher brings outstanding produce and product from the Maple Leaf Orchard to the market each Saturday. In March, Mark and Sue produce gorgeous amber maple syrup in their sugarbush when the sap starts to flow in their maples just across the river. “I have the dark, full-bodied syrup this morning — your favorite,” Mark says. A half-gallon goes into the market basket . . . Who can resist?

Mark and Maple Syrup FAV

 

Maple Syrup FAV 2

Mark reminds us it will be a good late afternoon for picking pie (sour) cherries at his orchard across the river. I ask, “will your new cherry pitter from Michigan’s Upper Pennisula be working?” Mark replies wholeheartedly and is confident we will shave hours off of the hand-pitting alternative. I am eager for the cherry picking later today, and cherry jam and jelly making tomorrow.

Cheeries and Honey FAV

Sour Cheeries Marks FAV

aromatherapy

Next stop is at Dan and Meryl’s herbs. Rub and sniff the distinctive fragrance of thyme, rosemary and lemon verbena. The yellow and red flowering maples are in this week. Sniff some more aromatic herbs.

red flowering maple FAV

yellow flowering maple FAV

Meryl learns that the Favorite Son wants to plant another pot of herbs for his house. She excitedly asks, “how do you want to use them?” A few quick recipes are exchanged between the two. Dan shows me a few treasured culinary lavender he brought in for us from last week’s request. Rub and sniff some more. . .  sweet memories of dream trip to France return . Several of the lavender are placed in my market basket. The Favorite Son proudly carries his tray of herbs to the car.

Thyme 1 FAV

more favorites 

We visit Otis Family Farms market stall down the same aisle for a few fresh cuts of pasture-feed meats. This stall is also one of the highlights with the flavored honey sticks — especially for those with a sweet tooth. Usually, a long line forms.

Otis and Maple Leaf Signs

eggs

honey sticks

bountiful gifts

More visits to other favorite vendors. The produce is gorgeous and bountiful . . . I am a little girl in a candy store! What would you like to take home in your market basket?

beets FAV

Cabbabe FAV

 bok choy FAV

eggplant FAV

garlic and tomatoes FAV

green onions FAV

onions red FAV

pickle cukes FAV

potatoes FAV

raspberries FAV

jeweled bouquets

The crowds start to arrive. We are finished with our weekly gathering of fresh treasures. One last item on the list — a bouquet of golden jewels. Aren’t they spectacular? Which bouquet shall we take home? I think all of them would be quite lovely, don’t you?

flowers and shoppers FAV

colorful bouquet2 FAV 2

colorful bouquet FAV 1

dahlia FAV 1

lilies FAV2

sunflowers

Flowers always make people better,

happier, and more helpful; they are

sunshine, food and medicine to the soul.

                                                         ~Luther Burbank

Rose Cottage Cooks! is coming soon

We are creating some fabulous cooking adventures at Rose Cottage Gardens and Farm using mainly locally produced and seasonal foods. Watch for our first batches of “Cheery Cherry Jam” from cherries picked this afternoon at Maple Leaf Orchard. The Favorite Son will be sharing his fabulous home made pizza and other baked goods.

Hope you will like some of these tasty treats . . .and will share your recipes, joy of cooking and the fun in sharing meals with others, too! Stop by in a few days for a link to the new site.

What is your favorite recipe using market or garden fresh produce? 

We would be delighted if you shared a recipe in the comments section below.

Post note: Special thanks to the Favorite Son for all the photography at the market this morning!

Be sure to visit A Southern Daydreamer for more outdoor musings.

See what other’s are “hooked on” at Julia’s Hooked on Houses, and find out more about Melissa’s inspiring beauty at The Inspired Home.

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Filed under Cooking, farmers markets, Gardening, preserving

Memories of France

God gave us memories so that we might have roses in December.

~James Matthew Barrie, Scottland 1922

(Note: There are many spectacular images capturing the amazing beauty of Chateau Dumas and surrounding villages. This is the last in the series on a millinery masterclass held in southwest France. Thank you, my dear friends, for following along on this dream trip to southwest France.)

time to say “au revoir”

The clocks are ticking too quickly. There is still so much to see and do, but the Chateau Dumas masterclass in the little village of Auty is ending. Wouldn’t it be lovely to stay a bit longer? What a fantastic time we would have together!

clock faces FAV

What shall we do together if we have more time in this lovely French countryside? 

Would you like to enjoy another cup of café au lait at a sidewalk cafe in the sweet village of Caussade?

Cafe au lait

Sample another freshly-baked baguette or other delectable French pastry? Shall we take some bread home with us?

Pastry shop

croissant FAV

Bread bags FAV

Or travel the countryside to other quaint midieval villages?

Cordes FAV 2

Cordes FAV

Balcony FAV

13th cent house cordes FAV

 window, curtain and pot 

Meander the centuries-old cobble streets and see what adventures we may discover or people we may meet?

cobble street in cordes FAV

Do a little shopping at French boutiques and shops?

wine shop FAV 1

Wine shop FAV 2

Boutique

Relax in gorgeous gardens amongst the roses and explore beyond the garden gates?

Bench with lichen FAV

climbing roses close dumas

Pink Roses FAV

Curved Teak Dumas FAV

to south garden2

Enjoy just one more bit of a tasty French morsel?

First Course FAV

rustic apricot pie

Alas, it is 7 a.m. and the car is packed from floor to ceiling. Hat boxes are carefully held on our laps. One last whiff of the heavenly lavender as we drive on the gravel road . . . through the courtyard . . . under the portico . . . and down the tree-lined driveway.

Lavender gardens fav 1

chateau dumas 3 under portico fav

Just down the road, up the hill and around the corner in the tiny little village of Auty, Jo is waiting at the corner to wish the first small group of travelers goodbye  — she seems so French on the bike with the wicker basket. Cheerful au revoirs are quickly exchanged as we pass by.

Racing on to Toulouse . . .

la violette de toulouse

Toulouse may be la ville rose (the pink city, so named for the rosy color of its brick buildings), but its traditional flower is the highly-fragrant double violet — Toulouse’s particular strain of Parma violet, la violette ‘Parme de Toulouse’. There is much ado about the sweetly scented, gorgeous medium purple blossom grown by flower market growers just north of the city since the 1800’s. 

violet sign

I learn that celebrations are held every year in February — when everything is accentuated with violets and the allure of it’s deep fragrance fills the air — so much so that it is impossible to resist purchasing a bouquet of the little purple beauties at the market. In celebration of the violet, even amazing fresh food are created as only the French can do — such as breads, bonbons, gateaus, salad dressings and more. Well . . . all of this is at least what my driver told me when first arriving in Toulouse. Maybe, we should return in February for the festivals to enjoy it first-hand? What fun we would have!

I find a few small jars of la violette de Toulouse and violet tea to tuck into the last small corner of the suitcase.

violet sugar FAV

Violet syrup FAV

Violette tea and tea cup

Violette The FAV 1

 

Violette Products FAV 1

roses

Time to pack all the wonderful memories . . . they shall be roses . . .

Italian Rose FAV

 hats and hat boxes

Thank you all my dear friends for joining me on this lovely dreamy trip to southwest France. I am so glad we could travel together in this beautiful countryside. Let’s plan to go again, shall we? Chateau Dumas next summer?

You are never too old to set another goal, or to dream a new dream.

~C.S. Lewis

Follow along on the other memories of Chateau Dumas and the Millinery Masterclass at: 

 French Dreams at Chateau Dumas.

 Inspiring Beauty at Chateau Dumas.

 Estivales du Chapeau {hat festival in France

 Creativity at Chateau Dumas

Heavenly French Lavender

Fabulous French Hat

Bon Appetite!

French Millinery Magic

POST NOTE — Upcoming Millinery Masterclass!

 Another Millinery Masterclass is scheduled at the superb 18th-century Chateau Dumas September 26-October 3 in southwest France! Even if you have never made a hat before, the adventures of hatmaking under the expertise of former Royal Milliner Dillon Wallwork are not to be missed!

The tutor is  former Royal milliner, Dillon Wallwork who for nearly a quarter of a century designed hats for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Diana, Princess of Wales as part of the team at world famous milliners Philip Somerville.

 So whether the goal is a chic shoulder-spanning hat to turn heads or a coquettish cocktail hat with a mysterious veil, or something much more practical . . .  Toulouse is the starting point, Chateau Dumas the luxury base and Dillon the expert.  As Dillon says: “A well-chosen, stylish hat works wonders. Whether it’s men opening doors for you, getting a table at a busy restaurant or just keeping warm in winter, wearing a hat gets you noticed – people will say ‘Who’s that?’ Men just love to be with a woman in a glorious hat.”

Want more information about a dream trip to Chateau Dumas and the Millinery Masterclass?

 Contact Lizzie, the Chatelaine de Dumas.

 

 

 

See what other’s are “hooked on” at Julia’s Hooked on Houses, and find out more about Melissa’s inspiring beauty at The Inspired Home.

Be sure to visit A Southern Daydreamer for more outdoor musings.

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Filed under crafts, France, Gardening, millinery, Travel, Vintage

Heavenly French Lavender

The air was fragrant with a thousand trodden aromatic herbs,

with fields of lavender,

and the brightest roses blushing in tufts all over the meadows…

                                                                        ~Willian Cullen Bryant, 1794-1878

(Note: There are many spectacular images capturing the amazing beauty of Chateau Dumas and surrounding villages. Allow time for your computer to load the images so that you don’t miss any. This is the fifth in the series on a millinery masterclass held in southwest France. Won’t you follow along?)

sweet dreams

 The air at Chateau Dumas is heavenly. The fragrance of blooming lavender from tens of hundreds of plants thriving behind carefully manicured hedges gently floats through the 18th-century windows up to the second floor. The magnificent aromatic sends me off to sweet dreams. 

carriage house studio facing east2

Lavender gives the illusion of feather stitches holding the Chateau garden sections together with their spectacular, billowing fronds. Indigenous to the Mediterranean region, lavender is a perennial and grows well in this perfect climate–fully enjoying the sun of the gardens and fields. The sandy, slightly alkaline soil of the Chateau’s gardens is just the environment for the lavender to thrive. I dream of having lovely gardens here in southern France…

I am mesmorized by the dreamy fragrance of the herb, and how the plant sways gently in the warm breezes. Even the bees and yellow butterflies can’t get enough of the sweet, soothing fragrance and seemingly grow dizzy from their over-indulgance in the warm, late afternoon sun. As the days progress, my muscles and bones feel soothed from the medicinal properties of the delicate, soft lavender fronds. I can not help but linger amongst the lavender each time I pass through the gardens from the Chateau to the atelier in the former carriage house. Ahh…it is simply impossible to resist rubbing the lavender between my fingers. Please,  just one more sniff of the soothing fragrance before I continue on to the studio in the carriage house. Please…

Lavender and front of Chateau  fav 1

Lavender, Bee and Chateau

lavender wands

Serendipitously, the gracious Chatelaine de Dumas arranges for her lovely friend to spend an hour or so teaching about French lavender, and the making of Victorian-era lavender wands as her mother taught her as a very young girl. Just after the morning dew dissipates, large bunches of lavender are gathered for the lavender session later in the day. The lavender is neither damp nor dry. Rub and sniff some more.

Some gathered lavender FAV 1

sweet lavender “cages”

A few of us join Chrissie Marshall in the dinning room after our lunch for a lavender intermezzo from our millinery masterclass. With her lovely Scottish brogue, Chrissie recounts how her mother and father taught her how to read at four and sew at five. Throughout her childhood, they taught her many ageless crafts and traditions–including making beautiful fragrant sachets and wands using the garden’s bountiful gifts. Her voice is as soothing as the lavender.

We are eager to learn how to make lavender wands from the newly-harvested herbs from the Chateau’s gardens. The lavender wands are only made once a year when the lavender stems are soft and pliable–it is now the perfect time of the year. The suppleness of the lavender stems and flowers is vital for ease in successful wand making.

Lavender bunches FAV 2

Lavender Bunches FAV

Chrissie tells us the lavender fragrance will last for several years in the wands. Even though the lavender will dry, the dried wands simply need to be squeezed to release their fragrant oils.

Christie - lavender master teacher FAV

The wands can be hung in a room, closet or placed in drawers to repel moths–much better than mothballs.  I think the fragrant memories of France should be everywhere after I return home! Chrissie shows three different methods of making lavender wands–all of which are lovely.

Lavender wand types FAV 2

Types of lavender wands FAV

An even number of lavender stems are collected, and the leaves are gently stripped off the stems. The stems are then gathered in a small bunch and the tops of the flowers are aligned. A small piece of thin wire–about 1-1/2 inches –is wrapped around the base of the flowers to secure the bouquet. Then a long piece (about three yards or so) of narrow 1/4 inch peach-colored satin ribbon is tied over the wire–leaving a very short end of ribbon and a long end of ribbon.

The bundle of lavender stems is turned over, and the stems are carefully bent down over the lavender blossoms–making a “cage” with the stems. A couple of the rebellious blossoms are gently encouraged back inside the cage. Each of the stems are lined up around the blossoms. The short end of the peach ribbon is tucked inside amongst the lavender.

Using a large-eyed tapestry needle, the long end of the ribbon is “threaded” and the weaving process starts going under and over–round and round–the lavender cage until it is beautifully covered. We each practice weaving, and feel so relaxed.

lavender wand and basket FAV2

Lavender weaving FAV1

keepers of memories

More lavender is selected from that harvested this morning, and additional simple lavender wands are easily assembled into small bunches and secured. Michelle generously shares some of her gorgeous, vintage robin’s egg blue ribbon discovered on a little excursion to a French hatmaker in another village. Some of the wands are embellished with this lovely little treasure. What a keepsake. This is an intermezzo that creates fragrant memories…

Lavender and Blue ribbon FAV 2

Lavender, sweet lavender; come and buy my lavender,
hide it in your trousseau, lady fair.
Let its flovely fragrance flow over you from head to toe,
lightening on your eyes, your cheek, your hair.

~Cumberkand Clark, Flower Song Book (c.1929)

More about other lovely sights of  a millinery dream trip to France in the days ahead as they unfold.

à bientôt mes amis!

Read more at French Dreams at Chateau Dumas.

Read more at Inspiring Beauty at Chateau Dumas.

Read more at Estivales du Chapeau {hat festival in France

Read more at Creativity at Chateau Dumas

Be sure to visit A Southern Daydreamer for more outdoor musings.

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Filed under crafts, France, Gardening, Home, Travel, Vintage

Creativity at Chateau Dumas

A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry,

and see a fine picture every day of his life,

in order that worldly cares may not obliterate

the sense of the beautiful

which God has implanted in the human soul.
                                                             ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 

(Note: There are many spectacular images capturing the amazing beauty of Chateau Dumas. Allow enough time for your computer to load the images so that you don’t miss any. This is the third in the series on a millinery masterclass held in southwest France. Won’t you follow along with me?)

looking upward

Discovering  Chateau Dumas in the tiny village of Auty, France is a study in creativity, beauty and inspiration. My travels to Chateau awakens my slumbering senses with panoramic views of the French countryside and villages. The colors, fragrances and rustic beauty of this Mediterarean region are mesmorizing. It is hard to take it all in.

chateau northeast side fav

Arrival at the 18th-century chateau feels as if I am tranformed into a French Impressionistic painting. My spirit is renewed with the expansive vistas, tranquil gardens and the country elegance of Chateau Dumas. How I wish I could linger long into the night in the gardens.

Everywhere there is a vignette, art or indoor and outdoor beauty that makes me pause and catch my breath. This journey to Chateau Dumas is what is needed for reflection and the rediscovery of creativity that has grown fallow.

Even the 300-year-old marble stairs to the second floor are amazing. I leave my sandals off at the bottom of the stairs and feel the cool, time-worn marble underneath my feet as I climb to the second floor. I wonder if horses raced up the stairs during the upheaval of the French Revolution or the Napoleonic Wars.

main with shoes3FAV

main with shoes fav

The elegant second floor hallway is stunning and is accentuated with several examples of neo-classical trompe l’oeil–a style of painting that gives an illusion of reality. I look several times above the doorway as the corbels appear nearly realistic and three-dimensional. Wait. Do the doors appear as if they are paneled? It is amazing how the contrasts of light and dark create an illusion of something that is not.

Contrasts in shape and texture abound on the second floor. The gorgeous striped French linen ticking frames the double French doors at one end of the hall and  luxurious, elegant red silk drapes the paned windows on the east side. Subtle nuances of pattern continuance mingle throughout the hall–the highly polished antique terra cotta floor tile laid on the diagonal, the illusionary diamond-shaped panel inserts on the doors and the antique flax linen heart with red embroidery set on a diagonally-placed terra cotta marble plant stand. Brilliant. The hall so creatively reflects balance and order that it feels quite tranquil.

second floor hallway FAV

tile floor second floor FAV

hallwayfav2

above door second floorFAV

linen heart on marble table FAV

There are four guest rooms on this section of the second floor–each unique and beautifully appointed. My breath is taken away by the beauty of these rooms. The guest room that I have is superb with a dramatic black chandelier, black marble fireplace, cameo-inspired border, gorgeous khaki green silk drapery–like a fine lady’s ball gown–that  frames the extravagant views of the French countryside in the valley below. A lovely antique French chair in the corner is tailored with finely-crafted handspun flax linen. There is a tasteful white French writing desk in the other corner. I think I shall become a permanent guest in this room–at least for the remainder of the summer…then into fall…or perhaps, until Christmas. Dream.

handle and key2

 bedroom view FAV

writing desk bedroom 1

writing desk bedroom 2

Bedroom Window FAV

bedroom window and view fav

An ensuite bath is the perfect ending to the day with the deep-soaking claw foot tub set on a golden marble floor. Windows to the east let in the early morning sun, and the customized chandelier designed to look like rain drops provides subtle lighting in the evening. What more could a woman want?

Bathtub FAV

Bathroom chandelier FAV

curtain finial FAV

Bathroom window FAV

Additional guest rooms are to the north on the second floor, too. The circular stairs to the third floor leading to more individually appointed guest rooms is exquisite. The wood banister amazing. I wonder what kind of wood was used on the banister.

Third floor stairs FAV

third floor stairs close FAV

millinery atelier

Across the manicured gardens is the Chateau’s expansive coach house–the second floor of the west wing is the dedicated millinery studio. The north lower level of the carriage house features a lovely little Chateau shop filled with vintage French linens, white-on-white embroidered sheets, pieces of machine and handmade lace, antique fine cotton night dresses/slips and rustic linen shirts, aged-silver and many other vintage French items. Local artisans’ jewelry, lavender sachets made with vintage ticking and linen, and fine French bath products are beautifully displayed throughout.

Carriage House FAV

carriage house climbing roses

carriage house shop FAV

Exterior wall hugging stairs provides one entrance to the millinery atelier. Under the portico is another example of neo-classical trompe l’oeil opposite the teak garden bench. Clever.

carriage house north wing FAV

carriage house window FAV

west entry to carriage house

carriage house through portico to east carriages FAV

portico with teak bench FAV

portico trompe l'oleil

potico trompe l'oleil FAV 2

southeast carriage house stairs FAV

I sneak a peak at the upstairs studio to catch a glimpse of what is to come in days ahead as we learn under the expert tutoring of Dillon Wallwork–a Royal Milliner– in a millinery masterclass (hatmaking). My anticipation for the masterclass grows–there are inspiring sample hats on display on four to five foot high antique carved wood hat stands, black and white striped hat boxes for our creations, sewing machines old and new, wood hat molds for crowns and brims and hatmaking supplies.

green hat

straw hat

studio hats

 cupboard with hat box FAV

Frister Sewing Machine FAV

Fister Sewing Machine Close FAV

Singer Treadle FAV

Hat molds FAV

Hat brims FAV

Hat molds and feathers FAV

straw hats materials FAV

Off to the right on a display table is a brochure about the International summer straw hat festival held in nearby Septfonds–Estivales du Chapeau. Tomorrow. Septfonds is the heart of French straw hat making.

Hat Festival Ad FAV

More about the millinery masterclass, one of the world’s great Estivales du Chapeau, a visit to a 1824 French hat factory and other sights of  a dream trip to France in the days ahead as they unfold.

à bientôt mes amis!

Read more at French Dreams at Chateau Dumas.

Read more at Inspiring Beauty at Chateau Dumas.

Today I am hooked on everything French. Find out what other people are hooked on.

Visit The Inspired Room for others’ inspirations about creating a beautiful life.

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Inspiring Beauty at Chateau Dumas

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread,

places to play in and pray in,

where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. 

                                                                                                                   ~John Muir

(Note: There are many spectacular images capturing the amazing beauty of Chateau Dumas. Allow enough time for your computer to load the images so that you don’t miss any. This is the second in the series on a millinery masterclass held in southwest France. Won’t you follow along with me?)

outward beauty

The 18th-century Chateau Dumas is totally enchanting on scales grand and small. There is so much to see and take in on this breath-taking estate in the small village of Auty, France. The late summer afternoon interplay of color, light and texture of the Mediterranean region creates dreamy illusions of French Impressionism. I marvel at and feel priviledged to spend several summer days in such a superb setting whilst learning from a master English milliner and designer in the days ahead.

chateau dumas 3 under portico fav

I am a bit weary from the long travels. The magnificent gardens are beckoning me to sit with them awhile.

Would you like to select  a garden hat from the basket in the foyer and stroll in the gardens with me?

hats in foyer FAV

Monet-inspired weathered teak garden benches strategically placed throughout the Chateau Dumas gardens provide opportunity to reflect and soak in as much of the beauty as possible. The teak benches and French metal chairs provide numerous invitations for varied perspectives of the gardens and vistas. I am quite taken in by the setting, and am totally mesmorized by it’s beauty. I pause frequently along the garden paths, sit and try to absorb all that I see into my memory. The beauty is stunning. I am starting to feel refreshed in my soul.

Curved Teak Dumas FAV

French chairs and table

teak bench and lantern carriage house3fav 

french metal chair west side of carriage house2

Bench with lichen FAV

Blue stripe metal chair

Blue Stripe metal chair 2 FAV

The garden benches and chairs are bekoning me to sit awhile and reflect. I can’t resist–the tranquilityand depth of “old-soul” in the gardens are drawing me to linger under the French sky.

Won’t you sit awhile with me, too? There is room for both of us on the bench . . .

moss covered garden bench 2

My worldly concerns and weariness from the travels begin to dissipate with the warmth of the Mediterranean sun. I am feeling soothed from the intoxicating lavender oils perfuming and lingering in the garden air. Listen. The song birds serenade the garden repose with their afternoon revelry unlike those heard at Rose Cottage.

There is so much to see within the gardens…butterflies and bees dizzy from endless visits to the lavender blossoms, sweet soft pink and white roses reaching for the sun and rewarding the gardener for her caring efforts, and window boxes and clay pots with trailing pink geraniums–all with enough fortitude to withstand the warm, dry summers in southern France.

Lavender and Bee

climbing roses pink dumas

climbing roses white close dumas

climbing roses close dumas

The gardens at Chateau Dumas are a living and breathing tapestry of texture. The whisps of the lavender fronds provide the feather stitches between patterns of trimmed coniferous hedges, roses, speciman plants and the sweeping views of the patchworked valley just beyond the terra cotta brick walls and iron garden gate.

carriage house studio facing east2

Lavender and front of Chateau  fav 1

 chateau allee fav

gardens4

Formal Hedges Facing South

gardens southeast

inward beauty

Feeling refreshed from garden lavender, vistas and bird choirs, I explore the Chateau. Guests usually enter the foyer through the double French doors that are flanked by large blue wood shuters. So French. Gorgeous gold gilded mirrors, a large foyer table, a grandfather clock, antique settee and chairs, woven market baskets and assorted vignettes accentuate the welcoming, but massive foyer. My footsteps echo on the large square tiles.

Painting of Dumas in foyer FAV

market basket FAV

foyer books7FAV

Through the foyer and past the stunning centuries-old marble staircase, is a light and airy dining room with expansive southern views capturing the pictureque valley and countryside. The black, white and red antique tile floor creates energy and lightness, and brings the outdoors into the Chateau. Simple–but stunning–vignettes throughout the room carry nature’s elegance even further.

eggs and bowls FAV2

Dinning room3

Dinning room4

dinning room tile

dining room chandelair FAV 1

Through another large set of double French doors is the outdoor dining terrace.  Off in the distance is the unmistakeable hum of combines and other farm equipment as hay and straw is baled from sections of the golden patchwork near the misty Mediterranean horizon. Other than the distant sounds of French farmers at work and the merrymaking of songbirds, no other distractions are heard. It is heaven. . . Fellow adventurers linger for hours after sharing meals while marveling at the incredible country setting.

terrace

terrace2FAV

Terrace View FAV

Terrace lingering

Christopher  and Naomi's antique mold

The moderate-sized–but efficient kitchen–is off of the dinning room for easy access for refreshments throughout the day. A lovely view of the valley is framed by pots of fragrant herbs at the bottom of the kitchen window. I am convinced that dishwashing would never be a chore with spectacular views such as these, and with the cheery serenades of the bird choirs! Please, may I help with the dishes?

kitchen shelves FAV 1

kitchen shelves FAV2

kitchen windowFAV1

view from kitchen window FAV2

Totally charmed by the hospitality, kindness and care of the Chatelaine de Dumas, I dream of  lingering at Chateau Dumas indefinitly.  I really won’t be much bother. Really.

lizzie

My stay at Chateau Dumas is everything dreams are made of…the beautifully appointed Chateau, gorgeous gardens, rooms with spectacular views, lovely song bird symphanies throughout the day, and the millinery atelier in the fantastic carriage house–all is a invigorating, sensory feast in every way! I am delighted to have arrived.

We live in a wonderful world

that is full of beauty, charm and adventure.

There is no end to the adventures that we can have

if only we seek them with our eyes open.
                                                                           ~Jawaharlal Nehru

More about the Chateau’s amazing trompe l’oeil, upper floors, millinery atelier, one of the world’s great Estivales du Chapeau, a visit to a 1824 French hat factory and other sights of  a dream trip to France in the days ahead as they unfold.

I would love to know what you think of this amazing adventure using the comment link below.

à bientôt mes amis!

Read more at French Dreams at Chateau Dumas.

Visit The Inspired Room for others’ inspirations about creating a beautiful life.

You may want to take a morning walk over at The Southern Daydreamer for more Outdoor Wednesday posts.

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Filed under France, Gardening, Home, Travel

Forget-Me-Not

 Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of Heaven,

   Blossom the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.

                                                                         ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
 

 

goodbye blue sweetness

The mercury is climbing past the 90 degree mark, and the humidity proclaims it is summertime. My sweet, little blue mouse ears–myosotis–are feeling pale. Whilst firefly fairies dance in celebration of Midsummers, the forget-me-nots scatter their seeds into the rich, black humus beneath them following each cooling breeze. The seeds will lie fallow until the spring rains bring new starry blooms once again.  Yes, it is time to say “au revoir” to the last harbinger of spring at Rose Cottage.

Forget me knot and Heidi

Planted in little clumps by the kitchen entry along the south porch, the little blue flowerettes faithfully send out a cheery greeting as the sun comes up over the river valley each day. The large hosta leaves are protective umbrellas for the sweet spring flowers–allowing them to twirl one last time at the Midsummer’s Eve dance.

Forget me knots 1

We are thrilled the little blue stars have twinkled so long this year. The forget-me-nots have loved their moist, rich soil beneath the cool, shaded refuge of the nearby river birch and Deborah maple.

Forget me knot 3

Each day, the lovely myosotis remind me of  Grandmother. She so enjoyed the minature blue flowerettes growing along the spring-fed waters of Swan Lake.  I cherish all the time spent with her as a young girl at her lake home in the far north, and all the little bouquets picked for Grandmother. Every morning or evening, I pause by the unmistakeable blue starry plants and recall with fondness the gift my Grandmother was to me.

Forget me knots 2

Do certain flowers remind you of the gift of special people in your life?

Midsummer’s Eve is approaching–a time we enjoy for the long daylight hours that extend well into the evening in the north. I think it is time to celebrate the longest day of the season by freshening up several of the window boxes at Rose Cottage… and, giving the sweet blue forget-me-nots another dance!

The root of a forget-me-not caught the drop of water by the hair and sucked her in, that she might become a floweret, and twinkle as brightly as a blue star  on the green firmament of earth.

                                                                                           ~Frederick Wilhelm Carove

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Dreaming in a Kitchen Garden

One of the most delightful things about a garden

is the anticipation it provides.

                                                                                                                                                                                                             ~W.E. Johns

the early bird gets the worm

Bob the Rooster starts his wake-up call about 4 a.m. at Rose Cottage.  Usually, it is fairly easy to think about an early start to the day when the morning is clear and fresh, the sky is starting to brighten with the first hints of sun and the song birds are warming up their voices for the “Sunrise Chorus.”

Miss Kim Lilac looking west toward the teak swing

This morning, it is different. It’s about 40 degrees with a high probability the mercury won’t budge much, and the needed rain is expected about 8 a.m. Knowing there is a lot to accomplish, I decide to get up when Bob the Rooster sounds the alarm… in hopes of staying ahead of the rainfall.

In spite of weather predictions, my walk up the hill to the kitchen garden is full of energy and enthusiasm. Jenny Wren twitters away that I am disrupting her sleep as I bring the hoe, rake, cultivator, spade and pruners into the garden.  It’s just not spring and summer without several families of wrens in the birdhouses. Jenny Wren intermittantly peeks out of the old gnarly gourd birdhouse hanging from one of the rustic cedar arbors between the 4 x 8 raised beds. She scolds me for nearly an hour, and finally gives up and goes back to her cozy little nest…leaving me to my early morning folly and dreams. Ah, the dreams…the hopes…the optimism…

I bring out a few packets of garden seeds–a source of inspiration, I suppose. Adding compost and other magical organic nutrients to the raised beds, I have visions of exuberant lushness in just another month or so. I frequent sideway glances at the basket filled with some of the magical seeds that will make my garden dreams come true. What are your garden dreams? What do you like to grow in your kitchen or vegetable garden?

Seed Packets 1

first fruits

The rhubarb plants (Canada Red and Victoria) are exceptionally lush this year–inspite of the the near-record drought conditions in May. The leaves are supersized–as if on steriods over the winter months. Most are over three feet long, and as much again as wide. I notice a lot of pollen from the white pines on the rhubarb leaves. The rains later this morning will wash all the pollen off. The rhubarb stalks are red and seem quite tender–perfect for a rhubarb dessert. The plants have not yet developed a seed head. Although, it can seem as if the seed head can shoot up well-past the plant in just one day. This time of year, I watch for seedheads and remove them until July 4th or a bit longer depending on the growing year.

Wouldn’t some fresh, warm rhubarb crisp be delicious? Or maybe, rhubarb cake or rhubarb sauce? I am reminded to look for the refreshing rhubarb punch recipe received from a dear neighbor almost 30 years ago. What is your favorite rhubarb recipe?

Rhubarb2 

The ever-hardy chives are already showing off their lavender-colored flowerheads. The garlic chives have a pungent fragrance as I brush past them while working around the garden beds. The chive bloosoms, along with minced Italian parsley and green onions wintered over, will make a nice addition to the spring greens salad for supper tonight.

Chives3

and the bells toll

It seems like I have only been in the kitchen garden an hour or so. The distant chimes of the carillon from the Lutheran church just down the hill from Rose Cottage tells a different story–it has been over five hours! Time for a  cup of tea.  Walking back towards our cottage, I notice that more flowers are blooming. One of the favorites–the white bleeding heart–is blooming near one of the bird baths and hostas. They are so beautiful with their nodding blossoms! I am reminded that there are probably 50 or more pink and white bleeding heart on the woodland path to le palais de poulet (Bob’s house) that should be moved. So many things to be thankful for this morning.

White Bleeding Heart and Bird Bath1

White Bleeding Heart 2

The sweetly fragrant white alyssums are quite romantic as a border flower, and are filling out beautifully near the bleeding heart and hostas. The alyssum will be so fragrant on warm summer evenings.

allysum

After a cup of tea and some dry clothes, it is time for more day dreaming in the kitchen garden while gently working the soil for planting. I decide to walk around the other side of Rose Cottage to see if the pink lilac is finally blooming. Though not as fragrant as the white and lavender lilacs, it has a soft, lovely fragrance all it’s own.

Pink Lilac

There is a welcome surprise in the next garden bed on the way up to the kitchen garden–blooms on the Frau Dagmar Harstropp! While simple and no bother at all–Frau Dagmar Harstropp produces the first roses of the season and signals the beginning of the best season of all–that of roses! The heady rose fragrance of this rugosa fills the June air, and will have almost continuous bloom throughout the summer. The rugosas are perfect landscape roses that can tolerate our severe climate changes. Now, time for more dreaming…

Fra Dagmar Hastrop

 What are your garden dreams this year?

You may want to talk a morning walk over at The Southern Daydreamer for more Outdoor Wednesday posts.

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Gorgeous Greens {lightly dressed

Let first the onion flourish there,
Rose among the roots, the maiden-fair
Wine scented and poetic soul
of the capacious salad bowl.
                        ~Robert Louis Stevenson

perfect in every way!

What a morning! The azure blue sky is spectacular, the leaves on the trees are a vibrant spring green and the flowers growing at Rose Cottage are strong and healthy. The earth is alive with excitement and enthusiasm for the day. It is the kind of morning that sings to me, “come out and play in the garden with us!” 

Pansies cream soft pink 3

The sweet pansies are still taking my breath away with their happy pansy faces . I remove the “spent” pansy blossoms–not wanting them to go to seed, yet. I pause for a minute or two to admire their cheerfulness in the mixed planters and window boxes. Who can resist a smile when you see their faces? Aren’t the soft rosey-cream ruffles of the pansies (Antique Shades) heavenly in the early morning sunrise?

Pansies cream soft pink

pansies cream soft pink 4

The bridal wreath is spectacular this morning, too. Each bridal wreath shrub (Vanhoutte Spirea) is like a  fountain with it’s white spray of thousands of tiny white flowers cascading more than eight to ten feet. These shrubs grow with very little attention, and are so lovely in the late spring.

After it is done blooming, we cut the old wood back by about one-third on the dozen or more shrubs at Rose Cottage. This encourages healthy growth and abundant blooms for next year.  The bridal wreath is just beaming in the morning light next to the east arbor, don’t you think?

bridal wreath and east garden arbor

 

a saturday field trip

It is such a lovely day, Mom and I decide to take a little “field trip.” Up the hill–just a mile or two out of the river valley west from Rose Cottage–lies a hidden treasure that I love to visit. Little Foot Farm and Greenhouse is a jewel box filled with the most vigorous, organically-grown annuals and vegetables imaginable! Started from seeds when the thermometer has dipped well-below zero, we are not disappointed again today–the green house is filled with the delicious fragrances of amazing plants dressed in their finest! We pick out some lovely gems to dazzle our gardens at home. I wish I could linger a bit longer among Karen and Sally’s symphony of beautiful flowers…

Just as we are leaving, Karen reaches into the cooler and presents me with a bag generously filled with gorgeous freshly-picked spring greens–at least ten salad varieties–sprinkled with lovely culinary pansies and violas! What a gift…the greens will have a starring role at dinner tonight!

gorgeous and delicious spring green salad

The dressing for the spring salad is light so not to overwhelm the delicate flavor and texture of the beautiful greens.

spring greens and flowers 3

A simple dressing is one My Sweet Girl loves to whip up when she is at Rose Cottage–it will be perfect on the greens from Little Foot Farm! I make a modified version of her dressing for the lovely greens.

spring greens and flowers 2

Rose Cottage Spring Green Salad Dressing 

 1 tablespoon of champagne vinegar (or white wine vinegar)

1/4 teaspoon of honey dijon mustard

Pinch of sea salt

Freshly cracked Madagascar pepper or other whole black peppercorn to taste

(The pepper is a perfect compliment to the peppery flavor of pansies!)

1 tablespoon of finely-minced Italian parsley (optional)

3 tablespoons of high-quality extra-virgin olive oil

(I prefer the milder flavored Italian olive oil from Liguria on spring greens, but any light-flavored olive oil will be perfect.)

Whisk together the vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Put the salad greens and culinary flowers in a bowl. Just before serving, lightly add the whisked dressing to the greens and toss gently. A touch of the vinaigrette is all that is needed to dress up the spring greens. Garnish with crumbled, fresh goat cheese and fresh raspberries or blackberries.

spring greens and flowers 1

“He that sups upon salad, goes not to bed fasting”
                                                   ~Thomas Fuller (1608-1661)

The gorgeous lightly dressed spring greens salad is a perfect ending to a perfect late spring day at Rose Cottage. Tomorrow…promises to be another. We are filled with gratefulness for the beauty of the day, and gift from our lovely neighbors at Little Foot Farm!

What is your favorite way to serve spring greens? Do you have a special salad dressing you like to make?

You may want to talk a morning walk over at The Southern Daydreamer for more Outdoor Wednesday posts.

For more ideas about creating a beautiful life, visit Melissa at The Inspired Room.

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